By Laura Gamba
BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - At least 10 armed groups in Colombia have declared a unilateral cease-fire in response to leftist President Gustavo Petro’s call, the government said Wednesday.
The announcement was made as part of a “total peace” that Petro has been seeking since he came to power in August.
The proposal seeks to negotiate peace with the numerous illegal armed groups that are active in the country, including the Gulf Clan and dissident members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which rejected a 2016 peace deal.
"Each group with its own identity, nature and motivation is expressing its willingness to be part of a total peace. In this exploration phase, they have been asked not to kill, not to disappear, not to torture," Danilo Rueda, the government’s high peace commissioner, told journalists at a press conference.
Petro has said that the government will include all of the criminal armed groups in peace conversations in order to end more than five decades of armed conflict in which more than 450,000 people were killed in the country between 1986 and 2016, according to the final report of Colombia's Truth Commission published in June.
The peace project also includes a possible resumption of peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN) that began in 2017 in Quito during the government of Juan Manuel Santos. The negotiations were interrupted by former President Ivan Duque in January 2019, a day after the group carried out a bombing at a police academy in Bogota that killed 21 police officers and injured 68 others.